(Jeff Chang’s examples)
What is your background/life history (≤ 300 words)?
I am first-generation American born. For much of my childhood, we struggled to make ends meet. At the age of 15, I got my first job working at a newly opened gas station/deli/convenience store. I was not old enough to sell some of the merchandise, so it shocked me that the manager assigned me as “shift leader” where I had to supervise employees twice my age and be responsible for tens of thousands of dollars per night. However, by re-visiting these features of my childhood, I realized my life history taught me two important lessons. The first is that working hard is critical for advancement. The second is that an education is important for finding a job where I am respected for my ideas and rewarded for changing the manner in which we think and do things. I paid my way through college at the University of Minnesota and was accepted into the PhD program at University of California, Davis. After receiving my degree, I did a post-degree training called a postdoc at the University of North Carolina.
I am currently an Associate Professor at Oregon State University. I manage a research program that studies how bacteria interact with plants. I also teach 1000+ students in introductory biology. Last, I am leading efforts in developing a new program in biological data sciences and am one of four who oversee a summer internship program that offers students opportunities to learn about big data.
What are your long-term career goals (≤ 200 words)?
Like many of my colleagues, I really enjoy my job. I am allowed to satisfy my intellectual curiosities. More importantly, I am paid to positively influence those around me and I get to help people grow and be successful. These include researchers in my lab, students in my class, scientists in my research community, and students that participate in programs I run. My goals are to: 1) continue to address important questions in plant pathology with the hopes that my research will have direct application in helping society, and 2) continue to help students learn about biology, big data, and most importantly, about themselves.
How does participating in this summer program and/or learning to work with big data help address your career goals (≤ 300 words)?
Next generation sequencing, a technology that massively parallelized genome sequencing, has defined my career. This technology was first introduced in 2004, as a result of the grand challenge of the “$1000 human genome sequence”. I started in 2006 and was required to help introduce genomics and computational approaches to addressing biological questions. Today, big data is pervasive in biology and has revolutionized the manner in which we address timely questions. Big data has simplified what were once labor- and time-intensive approaches. Working with big data has allowed us to use different approaches to tackle challenging questions. Big data has united researchers in biology, statistics, mathematics, and computer science. Big data has helped establish a national reputation and promoted the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, and Oregon State University. Needless to say, big data has been instrumental to advancing my career and helping me address important questions in biology.